Friday, February 27, 2009


I decided to hit up the tiny lone Indian restaurant in my city the other day for some spicy international cuisine. Check it out!


Mmmmm! Looks yummy, yes?

HA! I totally fooled you! That pictured above is indeed some delicious Indian fare, but it was not prepared or consumed at a restaurant. I made that there food, I did - and the photo is of my breakfast yesterday morning. Lemme tell you, it was scrumptacular.

One cool thing about where I live is that my little "town" is surrounded by big factories. There are a lot of foreigners working at those places, so some grocery stores have set up little areas offering ingredients from places where the factory workers hail, namely The Philippines, Indonesia, China, and Pakistan. I got the ingredients for my curry at the one little shop that's dedicated exclusively to selling foreign food. I bought the last two bags of chana dal, which is a young split chickpea without the seedcoat. You have to soak or slow cook this bean to soften it, but it still doesn't turn into mush, which is a very good thing as far as I'm concerned. I made the curry with some chopped onion, tomatoes and chillis, and added generous spoonfuls of turmeric and curry powder (a mix of red chilli, coriander, cornflour, turmeric, black pepper, clove, cardamom, cumin seeds, cinnamon, curry leaves, and salt.) Both the turmeric and curry powder are from Pakistan!

Seriously yummy.


The naan I made was only my second ever attempt at making it, and it was a huge success. The first time I tried to make it a couple weeks ago was very "meh," but this time the dough raised wonderfully and the result was so tasty and sort of reminded me of pita.

I had googled some naan recipes and pretty much threw together whatever I felt like. Naan is a very forgiving bread and there are loads of varieties you can make. I dissolved about a teaspoonful of yeast into warm water and poured a mound of flour and a bit of baking powder and salt into another bowl. After the yeast had bubbled up a bit, I poured that into the dry ingredients and then added a small container of plain yogurt. That stuff is sweetened here, so I didn't bother with sugar, and i think I added a little oil as well and then knead it all up into a nice soft dough. After it doubled in size I divided it into six balls and let them rise too. Then I flattened them with my bottle-of-gin-rolling-pin and cooked them in a very lightly oiled skillet.

You know it's time to turn them when they start to puff up and the underside starts to brown.


Flip them over and this is what you see:



You know what's pretty funny, though? If you (with your crystal ball and mad fortune tellings skillz) had told me just a few weeks ago that I'd be eating (let alone enjoying and I daresay even craving) those legumey split chickpea thingies I'd have told you you were stone-cold mental. I grew up being forced to eat peas and beans at the dinner table and I ALWAYS washed them down, pill-style, with a swig of milk. I wasn't keen on the milk either. After I got to an age where I could decide on my own what I wanted or didn't want to eat, I avoided vegetables like those. I should have keyed in to the idea that perhaps my palate has expanded, since I love dried peas, beans, and legumes - and think fresh shelled peas are pure deelish. So a few weeks ago my boyfriend cooked up a similar curry with naan (and he's far far better at those dishes than I) and gently urged me to try a bite. I thought, "What the hell?" and tucked in. YUM! So I pestered him to make it again - and again, "YUMMY!!" So I decided to try making it on my own, and my first attempt wasn't that bad at all. I'll try to make it have a stronger flavour next time.

Anyhow, because I've never eaten this sort of thing before, the little ditty "Beans, beans, the magical fruit; the more you eat, the more you toot," was really lost on me. Let me tell you, though - I get it now.

Holy cow!

I did not have to walk home last night. I just pointed my feet in the direction of my apartment and let my ass motor me along. I spent the rest of the night astounding myself with the frequency of the trumpeting of my butt. Thankfully, I wasn't reeking the place up at all - but even the cat was staring at me like, "Dude! What's up with all the noise?"

Saturday, February 21, 2009


I watched a movie on Thursday night and bawled my face off. For good measure I watched it again when it started back up on PPV and wept again, sort of surprised I still had tears to squish out of my eyes. I woke up Friday morning with fat puffy painful red eels blinking over my pink eyes, and solid blue rings underneath to complete my version of haggard. And you know what's funny? It wasn't Schindler's List or Terms of Endearment or even E.T. that got me weeping.

It was Wall-E.

The movie isn't even very sad. It has it's moments, for sure - but overall it's terribly cute and quite humorous. Still, within the first few minutes in I found myself swiping at my eyes with my hands, and to be honest I haven't been able to get a firm grip on the weepy over the last twenty four hours. My right eye leaked pretty consistently all day long.

I guess that's what happens when you try to shove down your legitimate worry and sadness about what's going on over ten thousand kilometres away with your disintegrating family. I held that shit out at arms length for almost a week. Dangling between my thumb and forefinger I tried to regard everything dispassionately as if it were something that I'd read in the morning newspaper about strangers far away in a strange land.

The truth is, however, the participants in this drama/trauma are people I love - and even though the circumstances don't immediately affect me in my day to day goings on (or so I'd like to think) they affect my core.

So Wall-E caused my pipes to burst.

And I just about blew a gasket or two tonight trying to talk to my family who have had a bit of a chance to let their shit fester and have now either chosen to batter me because they're so pissed off, or completely cut me off because I'm not worth trusting.

I've got NOTHING to do with it all, but it impacts me greatly. In the meantime I'm wondering if this is a view to what my people really think of me or if this is just how they're re-acting when they're in pain: like crazed little rabid raccoons in a trap. I ended two phone conversations tonight with "Ya, okay, whatever. Fuck OFF!"

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentines Schmalentines

The message on my student's bag makes its annual appearance.


Just for you!


Back in Canada, my family is imploding. Exploding? Disintegrating.

Valentines Schmalentines, love's not cutting it. For the last ten minutes I've sat here, eyes shifting and shoulders shrugging. My hands are forming signal-words trying to figure out how to express how I feel.

I can't, except to say "FUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"


**UPDATE: A day later.....FUCK with capitals and a pile of worry and heavy heart. It's like an earthquake. This situation sucks so heartily,...I don't know what to do with myself.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Out of It

I've never really learned how to use my washing machine here. There's probably a button to push for a delicate cycle, or another that lets super dirty clothes soak for extra long - things like that. But I never learned what they are. I have a second-hand washing machine that replaced my second-hand washing machine that broke a couple years ago. It tends to get the job done, at least inasmuch that when the beeps happen - letting me know that the machine is finished - I find my clothes damp, smelling of detergent, and wrapped in a ball so tight it's like solving a laundry puzzle every time I have to untangle them to hang them on the drying rack.

I usually just turn the thing on, hit the big button that clearly means "play" (indicated by a forward looking arrow slash double-line pause symbol) add some soap, and lower the lid to let the machine do its thang. Today I accidentally touched another button before hitting "play." I now know that there IS a setting for "never drain and wash these clothes forever!" When it finally occurred to me that I hadn't heard the finishing beeps, my clothes had been agitated in the same water for about six and a half hours. Awesome.

The beginnings of a nasty cold have all but laid waste to my natural ability of staying conscious. I was bone achingly fatigued today. Tonight after coming home from work, I was absolutely unable to keep my eyelids open. I crawled into bed for big huge nap and dreamt that I had fallen asleep while teaching my new adult class. My eager and polite students just sat there in silence waiting for me to re-animate. I must have been asleep for awhile, because when I lifted my head off the desk I had to wipe an embarrassing amount of drool off the side of my head with the back of my hand. I then tried to "recover" my lesson by speaking as if I'd totally meant to fall asleep, explaining "so you see, in English - that's called a nap and this is called drool, and what I was just doing is known as snoring. Any questions?"

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Foreign Food

I used to get so annoyed with those Jokers on Survivor. They were out, what, thirty nine days on their little island or desert and it would only be a couple days in before they started to fantasize about their favourite foods from back in civilization. Granted, they were pretty much starving on a diet of rice, lentils, bugs and grass or whatever. But, still.

I understand them now. Sometimes a craving will not be satiated, even if you manage to find and consume that thing it is you're jonesing for. There are days I think I might justify killing someone if it meant I could get me some cottage cheese and English muffins. I have no idea why these two things are what I miss most from the giant selection that could be found in a Western grocery store, but crave them I do.

This past week I was inspired to create a meal that I don't really miss at all. I haven't had perogies in probably twenty years and I had, in fact, pretty much forgotten they existed. I got to thinking about them, though, while I was chatting with a friend in Warsaw on Facebook. She likes her perogies filled with fruit and dusted with sugar. I'm not Polish, but still - that sounds blasphemous to me. So I searched for a recipe that would recreate the perogies of my youth served hot and unassuming at little hole-in-the-wall diners in Toronto's Polish-town. This is one of those foods that you can make and enjoy if you're living in Korea because it doesn't require an oven - which most people here don't have.

First, you gots to make the dough. I used a combination of flour, warm water, a tablespoon of oil and teaspoons of salt and baking powder. Simple enough. Don't over-knead. You then let the ball of dough rest in a warm place for half an hour. I then covered it with saran wrap and shoved it in the fridge. My intended half an hour or so nap extended to a five hour sleep and three o'clock in the morning is far too late to make dinner.

The next night I napped for five and a half hours. D'oh!

And, the following night I was dragged to a "hwe-shick" (work party) to welcome the new teacher who officially started on Friday. Bye-bye Amy teacher. And for the record, soju is evil. Pure evil delivered up to restaurants through pipes leading directly from hell. Just so you know.

So Thursday night I finally got to perogie making. You gots to roll in the dough. Ummmm. No. Roll out the dough. I don't own a rolling pin, so a bottle of gin was my flattening tool. I should have used a bottle of vodka for authenticity sake, but I don't have one of those. I don't even have a spacious flat surface, so I divided the dough and rolled it flat on my cutting board.


I've gotten ahead of myself.
Before even making the dough, I cooked up a batch of faux ricotta. I've posted about this before and it's very easy to make. Yummy, too!


Back to the dough, though.
I rhyme.
I used my Korea coffee mug to cut circles.


And then I spooned on some filling.


This was a mixture of mashed potatoes, mock ricotta, crumbled "McLelland seriously strong extra-mature cheddar" (bought at 13$ for 200g at HomePlus, yikes) and an egg yolk. Yum!

I used a fork to seal the edges.


And then dropped these puppies into a large pot of boiling water. They're finished cooking when they start to float.

Meanwhile I fried up some onions and bacon. Really, the bacon is just glorified ham here, but whatever. We must make do. Once the perogies were floating, I dumped them into a strainer, sang them some Jimi Hendrix and threw them in the onion/faux bacon pan.

And this was dinner.


It wasn't an awesome success. The dough should have been thinner. I was hampered by it's refrigerated state and my stupid gin rolling pin. Still, these tasted like perogies, even though the "bacon" and onion made me flash on liver, which grossed me out. These are totally do-able and I recommend giving them a try if you're in Korea and in need of a culinary mix-up. If you venture to make perogies (or pierogi - however you want to spell it) let me know how yours turn out!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Monday, February 02, 2009

Mixed Messages

A little girl.

With a bunny for a hat,


And a dalmation for a coat.
(Menacing purple flowers waiting to pounce.)


A clothing store.

Named after a short story by Tolstoy.


In a banana logo.